Khan backs Real Madrid to triumph in Wembley final

Hosting the Champions League final is set to boost the capital’s economy by £53million, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Wembley Stadium and (inset) Sadiq Khan
Wembley Stadium and (inset) Sadiq Khan

Real Madrid will win Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final, Sadiq Khan has predicted, as he kicked off celebrations in Trafalgar Square.

The mayor’s forecast came as London & Partners – City Hall’s business growth agency – calculated that hosting the final will boost the capital’s economy by £53million, with the potential for the impact being even bigger as a result of any high-spend football visitors.

Speaking at the launch of the UEFA Champions Festival – which will host events across London over the next three days – the mayor said he hoped the match at Wembley Stadium would have a better aftermath than the men’s Euro final in 2021, when 2,000 ticketless fans dangerously stormed the venue.

“I’m looking forward to a great game, I think there’ll be lots of goals. I think Real Madrid will win it – they are European royalty,” said Mr Khan.

“What I want is a great sporting event. I’m afraid the men’s Euro final wasn’t a good spectacle for our city, in relation to what happened afterwards. The women’s final improved the reputation to some extent.

“But this is an event watched by more than 450 million people across the globe, in more than 200 countries. I’m hoping it cements our reputation as the sporting capital, but also shows the world, whether it’s baseball, American football, whether it’s athletics, tennis, boxing – we can do everything.”

After the trophy was welcomed to London on stage at Trafalgar Square, the mayor was seen showing off his skills at dribbling a football with some children.

“There’s five different fan zones across London, so Real Madrid fans, Borussia Dortmund fans, and other football fans, can come along, they can see events taking place, take part in events,” said Mr Khan.

“The really great thing for London is it confirms to the globe that we are the sporting capital of the world – but also it contributes more than £50million towards our economy. Think of the hotels, the restaurants, our theatres and so forth, so it’s a real boom for our city.”

He added that he was “looking forward to some of the footballing legends coming to London” on Saturday night.

On Friday evening, Trafalgar Square will play host to a headline performance by Hackney’s Rudimental, with the show powered by the movement of dancing fans through a “kinetic dancefloor”. The night will culminate in a DJ set by Faithless.

Regent Street will be pedestrianised between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus on Thursday and Friday to enable penalty shootout challenges and other activities, while Champions League legends from around the globe will be at Somerset House showcasing their skills in a five-a-side tournament.

At Potters Fields Park, by Tower Bridge, a giant inflatable Uefa Champions League trophy will greet visitors, with interactive installations and activities continuing along the South Bank.

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